Monday, February 18, 2019

From the Archives: Why do Democrats keep provoking Republicans?

By Isaiah Thomas
Board of Editors

It's a long way to Election Day 2020 but according to today's New York Times,  the Republicans are wasting no time throwing mud at Democrats:

In response, the usual bloviating suspects have urged Democrats not to play into the hands of the Republicans by nominating someone who might raise a billionaire's taxes.  Much safer, Dems are told, to nominate their own white billionaire, like Li'l Stop-n-Frisk, because that way the Republicans would be unable to smear the nominee with unfair attacks (what nominating Mikey B. would do to the prospects of a party dependent on strong minority turnout these seers don't say).

We sent our team of interns back into our archives to test that hypothesis.  You'll never guess what they found.

1968 – Dems nominate moderate Vice President Hubert Horatio Humphrey

In 1968, perhaps animated by fears of what might happen if Democrats nominated a progressive candidate or perhaps because Humphrey backer Chicago Mayor Dick “I Am The Law” Daley had beaten all opposition to a bloody pulp, the Democrats went with the Establishment choice: Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

His opponent, Richard Nixon, responded with a “Southern Strategy,” to appeal to disaffected white ethnic Democrats who would later vote for a corrupt Russian stooge.  The goal was blow the dog whistle loud enough to attract them but not so loud as to alienate that now-extinct species: moderate Republicans.  To accomplish that feat, Nixon turned to a then obscure TV producer named Roger Ailes.  Here's what he whipped out: 

Whaddaya know, it worked.  Well, that and subverting the Paris Peace Talks.

1972 – Dems nominate progressive war hero George McGovern

Four years later the Democrats, still woozy from the pounding they had gotten on the streets of Chicago and still trying to end the Vietnam War, chose a war hero from the prairie by the name of George McGovern.  Did Nixon respond differently?  Well, he ordered a number of felonies committed and distracted the electorate with a carefully modulated statement of the differences between the two candidates:

Amnesty meant letting draft resisters who fled to Canada come home.  Acid referred to a drug policy that de-emphasized locking up anyone who used drugs and wasn't a rich white boy.  And the Republicans chose abortion instead of their preferred term, baby killing, for we are sure alliterative reasons only.

1988 – Dems nominate moderate Gov. Michael Dukakis

Sorry we have to skip some of the stations on this BS Express to the Grifter-in-Chief.  In1988, Democrats again chose what they thought was a safe pair of hands: moderate pragmatist Michael Dukakis.  And of course the Republicans honored that choice with a respectful discussion of the issues.

Nah, we're just s***in' you:

1992 – Dems nominate moderate Gov. Bill Clinton

Not deterred by the Dukakis debacle, Democrats nominated yet another moderate Governor in 1992, Bill Clinton.    This time though the Republicans chose to focus their toxic warfare not only on the candidate but on a relative of his who wasn't running for anything:

In 1992 and 1996 that line of attack more or less flopped.  But, like the chicken pox virus, it remained dormant but ready to afflict the Democrats when Mrs. Clinton, having performed well as Senator and Secretary of State, dared to run herself.

2000 – Dems nominate moderate Vice President Al Gore

Some of you may see a pattern developing here.  Let us help you:

Boy that Kellyanne Fitzpatrick sounds like quite a firecracker.  Wonder whatever happened to her?

As we know, the attacks helped George W. Bush win the election by a vote of 5 to 4.

2004 – Dems nominate moderate Senator John Kerry

With the nation still reeling from the 9/11 terror attacks, except for the Muslims in Jersey City whom the Tangerine-Faced Grifter saw dancing on rooftops, the Democrats decided to give a moderate Establishment candidate another go.  This time they chose, as they had in 1972, a bona fide war hero with the decorations to prove it: Sen. John Kerry.  Who would attack a thrice-wounded veteran for his service?

And the answer was:

In other words, every breathing Republican was willing to smear John Kerry for political advantage.

2008 & 2012 – Dems nominate progressive Senator Barack Obama

By 2008, Democrats came to the realization that Republicans would smear whoever the Democrats nominated, so why not put up a candidate who actually excited and reflected the Democratic base?  Surely, the attacks couldn't get any more unfair.

We'll leave that judgment to you:

By now we think the point is tolerably clear.  There's no reason to worry about what Republicans will say about a given Democratic candidate.  Unless of course the Democrats choose to nominate Vladimir Putin, in which case we can expect the Republican incumbent to take the high road.

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